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Healthy Bone Enthusiasts Society (STENKO)

Patient advocacy in Poland
Healthy Bone Enthusiast Society (STENKO)

With its total population of 38,5 million and a growing life expectancy, osteoporosis
is expected to be a significant health problem in Poland. It is estimated that approximately 8 million people may be affected (5 million women and 3 million men). Data indicates that 100,000 patients are receiving some form of treatment, but 300,000 patients who are already diagnosed with osteoporosis are not taking any therapeutic measures. Whether a patient receives treatment is influenced significantly by their ability to pay for medication. Those figures show that much more should be done to increase public awareness and peopleís motivation to look after their bone health. There is also a need to improve osteoporosis awareness among health professionals and in the Ministry of Health.
That was the idea behind the launch of the Healthy Bone Enthusiast Society (STENKO)-
Patientís Society. The societyís primary goals are to: improve awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis; increase access to densitometry machines for high-risk groups; increase the number of osteoporosis patients receiving therapy; get osteoporosis medication and tests reimbursed. Every year, quarterly public meetings are organized in Warsaw. Polish experts in osteoporosis are invited to speak at the meetings
which are open to all who are interested in osteoporosis. Lectures are given on all aspects
of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis, including diet and exercise.
Before and after the lectures, free screening tests are offered to all interested older people
who are present at the meetings. The participants, approximately 500 people, are also
given the opportunity to consult with the doctors and osteoporosis specialists about
any specific problems they may have. Our immediate objectives are to support
fitness programmes for post-menopausal and elderly women (to begin April 2003) and to
create the new Centre of Osteoporosis Education (CEDOS) for patients and general
practitioners.

Given that Poland is due to join the European Union next year, we can expect changes
in the health care system in the near future. Together with the Multidisciplinary Osteoporosis Forum and the Polish Foundation of Osteoporosis we will work to strengthen our efforts to establish osteoporosis as one of the national health priorities.

Contributed by Iwona Drozdowska- Rusinowicz, President, Healthy Bone
Enthusiasts Society (STENKO)

22.08.2003


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